"Empty your pockets."
He emptied his pockets.
"Take off your shoes."
He took off his socks.
"Now take off your socks."
He took off his socks and looked up at me from where he was seated on his bed.
"You're really enjoying this, aren't you?" he asked.
"O.K., let's go to the shower," I said.
"What? But I don't have any shoes on!"
"You don't need your shoes in the shower," I explained.
He looked at with suspicion and a touch of irritation but he cooperated.
"O.K., take off your shirt...now take off your eyeglasses...O.K., now I'm going to put shampoo in your hair," I explain as I dampen his hair over the sink and suds his hair.
"Don't over-do it," he directs me, sounding a bit cranky. His hair soaped up, I fiddled with the temperature of the water.
"O.K., now take off your pants."
"Heavens!" he cried.
"O.K., I am going to turn around now...I want you to take off your pants and step into the shower."
I learned recently you have to include both pants and underwear in this set of instructions...Directions must be both specific and slowly delivered.
"Where did you find me, anyway? How do I know you?" he demands. Then he yells, "It's too hot!"
Back and forth we went, trying to find a happy medium. We reached a comfortable temperature.
"Now what do I do?" he asked.
* * *
He cooperated with the instructions. He likes to refer to me as She Who Must Be Obeyed...
A couple of weekends ago at the Farmer's Market, he was telling people in his dead-pan way that I beat him. I hadn't seen this acquaintance in awhile, and they had no idea who this man was or that anything was wrong with him. And nothing looks wrong with Dad.
"She beats me at home, you know... She locks me in the basement. It's dark down there..." he said, without a smile.
I wanted to strangle him...
Unfortunately, in recent days, he has not been cooperating with any of his other caregivers while I am away lately. This has led to me receiving a number of panicked calls to my cell phone lately. Phone away calls to work, phone calls while my niece is being born, phone calls when I'm impossibly faraway. His favored caregiver, Andrea, is away for the summer, and I have found no other substitute. She is irreplaceable. The Exelon that had been working wonders stopped working, like every other drug he has been prescribed. It works enough to get you excited and then it bottoms out. A taste of hope before sinking into a deeper oblivion.
What am I to do an hour and a half away in USR when I get a call that Dad is missing? That Dad is running down the road as fast as he can get away?
What am I supposed to do when my father's only advice to me has been, "If I ever get like that, promise me that you'll just take me out to a field and shoot me. I'm serious."
Thanks Dad. Very useful advice.
"You know who I look like?" Dad asked. He was brushing his teeth and scrutinizing himself in the mirror. He didn't quite look like the Dad I know and love. My father had been meticulous about shaving but now was in desperate need of a trip to the barber shop for a hot-towel shave.
"Um...I don't know?"
"Isaac Asimov. I look like Isaac Asimov," he said.